Saudi officials have questioned Rizieq Shihab in Mecca this week after he reportedly displayed a flag similar to that of Islamic State outside his home in the city. (Antara Photo/Reno Esnir)

Saudi Authorities Question Rizieq Shihab Over Islamic State Flag


NOVEMBER 07, 2018

Nusa Dua. Saudi Arabian security officials have questioned fugitive firebrand cleric Rizieq Shihab in Mecca this week after he reportedly displayed a black flag similar to that of Islamic State outside his residence in the city, the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed on Wednesday.

The Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader left Indonesia for umrah, or the minor hajj, in May last year, but never returned. He was facing police questioning at the time over sexually explicit messages he and activist Firza Husein allegedly exchanged on WhatsApp. He was declared a suspect in the pornography case, but all charges were dropped in June.

"M.R.S. [Muhammad Rizieq Shihab] has been questioned by Saudi security officials in Mecca in response to a report by a Saudi citizen, who saw a flag suspected to be that of IS posted in front of his residence," the ministry said in a statement.

The Indonesian Consulate in Jeddah assisted Rizieq during the questioning, as part of the government's duty to protect its citizens overseas, the ministry said.

Rizieq was allowed to return home on Tuesday night after more than 24 hours of questioning, according to the statement.

Saudi immigration authorities also detained Rizieq in September while he was about to board a flight to Malaysia. The Indonesian Embassy in Riyadh confirmed that the cleric had been overstaying his visa since May.

He played a central role in the so-called 212 Movement in 2016, which involved a series of protest rallies in Central Jakarta by hardline Muslim groups against Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, which resulted the then-governor, a Christian of Chinese decent, being defeated in his bid for re-election.